What Is an Online Community in Business? Build Yours in 5 Steps

Customer engagement is key to build a lifelong relationship with those who are acquiring your products and services. In this post, we explore the benefits of running an online community for your business, and show you how to build it in 5 steps.

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According to Motista, customers have a 306% higher lifetime value when having an emotional connection with a brand. Also, these engaged consumers are more likely to recommend the brand to their acquaintances.

Therefore, the more engaged customers are with a brand, the more they’ll buy its product. Consequently, they will recommend it to others. This is one of the reasons why working on building a strong bond with your brand’s audience is essential. And online business communities play a huge part in that!

In this post, we’ll explore what’s an online community in business and which are the benefits of investing in one. For starters, it’s a great way to connect with potential clients. And strengthen the bond with the existing ones!

How to Grow Your Online Community

Building a strong community can be challenging. Growing up is hard, and there are many questions about doing it right. But the good news is that in the end, it’s all about listening to your audience and giving them the type of content they’re expecting.

So here we bring 5 practices that will help you grow a successful and active online business community 👇

  1. Know your business
  2. Define your goals
  3. Stay active as a community member
  4. Choose your tools wisely
  5. Cultivate community habits

1. Know Your Business 💡

In order for others to want to be part of a community that supports your business’ culture and values, you must be the first one to be clear about them. Therefore, you should do the necessary research. These are some of the questions you can ask yourself to get started 👇

What’s the differential value of your business?

What makes it unique and different from your competitors?

Why do consumers choose it?

Why would they recommend it to others?

2. Define Your Goals 🚀

A fundamental part of building a successful and engaged community is to define what you want to achieve with it. That is to say, define your community’s goals! Here are some questions you can ask yourself when defining your objectives 👇

What’s the purpose behind the community?

What are you doing for your community members to stay engaged?

How and with which metrics are you measuring the success of your brand community?

3. Stay Active as a Community Member 💪

The first step to being an active community member as a manager or startup founder is to listen to your audience. Even the worst feedback will help you sharpen your community’s dynamics. And understand what and why something’s not working.

Also, facilitating channels for members to express their thoughts is a great practice. In addition, you can read their reviews, comments, and experiences.

Being a community manager is not enough. While you might be really active behind the scenes, it’s essential to interact with other members of the community. You can’t just propose an activity and wait for others to participate without any incentive! On the contrary, community managers need to lead the conversation to promote real interest. After all, if you offer true value, your people will organically want to be part of the community.

4. Choose Your Tools Wisely 📱

There are a lot of digital platforms where you can build your business community. These include social media -such as Telegram, Twitter, or Facebook-, rewards or affiliate programs (i.e. Starbucks is a great example of a successful brand community), forums, and third-party community platforms, such as Slack or Discord.

5. Cultivate Community Habits 🌱

As we previously mentioned, it’s important to know that building and managing a group is not enough to build an engaged community. Instead, you also have to show active participation and interaction with other community members.

Also, a great way to encourage interaction and participation from members is to host regular activities, both online and offline. Because, by bringing people together, users will end up building strong, lasting bonds over time. Therefore, community value will increase.

Related 👉 How to Make Online Communities More Accessible

After all, the need of being together will be born naturally, and the values shared by your community will feed the relationships and make them stronger

What Is an Online Community & Why Is It Important for a Business?

Thanks to the evolution of technology, people can connect with each other through digital media. It’s through that connection that online communities are built. And in the case of online business communities, these groups will help formalize their commitment to the brand’s culture and values.

In this sense, a business community consists of a group of users, consumers, or potential customers of a specific brand who have a connection with each other based on their commitment to the culture of that business. Also, as a business, authenticity will be fundamental to achieving a loyal and participative community.

How to Build an Online Community for Your Business in 5 Steps

1. Identify & Engage Your Audience

Firstly, if you’re thriving to build an online community for your business, you should know who you’re going to address with your content and experiences. That is to say, defining your target audience, which includes knowing what are your potential users’ interests. Also, learning how they communicate with each other and the businesses they like.

However, what’s essential is to know what their pain points are. Certainly, communities will help you have insights and first-hand information about their needs, which problems they find in your product or service, and how to build the right solutions.

Once you have identified your potential members, you’ll need to engage with your audience. Providing valuable content that helps solve their problems, being consistent, and connecting with your audience are key items that you’ll have to maintain over time.

💡 A community manager’s pro tip is to focus on new members’ onboarding process. New members are usually really excited to join a group of like-minded people. So you can leverage this initial motivation with a welcoming onboarding process.

2. Choose a Platform

Are you familiar with the different options available when it comes to chat and event management? Understanding how your people feel comfortable is essential to building a better community!

As we previously mentioned, there are plenty of platforms you can choose from to build your online business community. However, some of the most popular chat platforms include Slack, Discord, Telegram, and Whatsapp.

But imagine you’ve already built a community that’s working on a chat platform, and your people are hungry for active conversations. A forum might be an accurate solution to that need.

Where can you find a suitable platform to successfully lead your tribe into deep engagement? Some options are Circle, Tribe, Playgroup, Forem, and Discourse.

3. Develop a Clear Set of Rules

After starting an online community for your business, you’ll need to set basic rules to ensure high-quality conversations and nurture real engagement. Otherwise, if the community is full of spam and unrelated discussions, it will probably not be long before you end up with an inactive group.

4. Set Up Your Online Business Community

To set up your community, you’ll need to build initial categories, such as channels in a Discord server, in order to organize your online group. It’s also important that you review your community’s sign-in process to make sure that it works fine. It’s also fundamental to align your community’s aesthetic to your brand’s.

At Circle, for instance, you can customize and style your community, and use a custom domain. It’s also easy to create private and secret spaces for groups inside your community.

5. Identify Key Stakeholders

When building a community, it’s essential to have a community manager. However, you can also count on group experts and moderators that will help you offer a better experience for members of your online business community.

For instance, Facebook groups were created to be friendlyinformative, and safe spaces for users who share similar interests. That’s why Facebook is offering new moderation features. They are working to show users they care about discussion quality and spam prevention by assigning reliable group experts and moderators.

How to Grow and Promote Your Online Community

In order to grow your community, your sixth and final step should be to promote your online group and make it popular in your niche. Also, you can consider running ads. Something that will help you get more people to join your online group is to let your business’ customers know that they can get valuable content and support in your community. This will provide an incentive for them to join.

Also, you can include a call-to-action on all your social media channels, website, and email list. And if you have a physical store, you can include a call-to-action there too! Last but not least, create weekly posts based on different themes. For example, you could have a weekly or monthly live Q&A.

In conclusion, in Unita, we believe the most successful communities come from people who are genuinely enjoying the spaces they create. If you can build a space that offers and promotes valuable content for members, then others will want to join as well.

If you are already running a community, don’t miss our post with the best practices to attract and retain your audience through an onboarding strategy.

Victoria Mortimer

Victoria Mortimer

I'm a journalist with a Social Communication degree, community manager, and content creator with over five years of experience. Now, I'm working as an independent writer passionate about community building, entrepreneurship, and social media.

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